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Daniel's Quest - Essay Example

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The novel The Book of Daniel is written by E. L. Doctorow in 1971. In this work the author vividly portrays cruelty of the regime and hardship faced by many Soviet immigrants during the cold war. Doctorow depicts that the society is blind towards other people who differ form the crowd…
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Daniel's Quest The novel The Book of Daniel is written by E. L. Doctorow in 1971. In this work the vividly portrays cruelty of the regime and hardship faced by many Soviet immigrants during the cold war. Doctorow depicts that the society is blind towards other people who differ form the crowd. He portrays that when actions of one character begin to affect another person, the society has moved from personal morals to social morals which set limits on human behavior. Thesis Through the theme of Daniel's quest Doctorow portrays that if the government manipulates social morals it leads to sufferings, political and social injustice faced by many American citizens.
Daniel Lewin is the main character who tries to find the truth about his parents executed for 'stealing' technology secretes for Russia. These events took place many years ago, but they are still important for Daniel who cannot overcome grief and depression. Doctorow depicts that Daniel has a happy family, son, beloved sister Susan, a good job and opportunities, but he cannot bear with the death of his parents. Daniel's quest is a search for truth and good name of his family accused in espionage. "Daniel" writes: "If justice cannot be made to operate under the worst possible conditions of social hysteria, what does it matter how it operates at other times" (Doctorow 1996, 56)
Through the characters of Daniel Lewin Doctorow unveils such important life stages as the process of becoming an 'adult' and new perception of self. In spite of the fact that Daniel is a mature person he is bound by memories and deep emotional experience. Doctorow describes that history and its examples become an important moral guide for Daniel to overcome life troubles and depression. In general, the author's emotions are mixed about moving beyond adolescence, because this new life stage deprives everyone of his ingenuousness. Life experience of a particular person is subjected to historical events and political situation which have a direct impact on his personality. Daniel interviews many of his friends in order to unveil the truth and events led to arrest of his parents. The search for meaning is the main theme of the book which portrays that complicated political and social events were closely connected with injustice and prejudices against Soviet citizens and immigrants. To some extent, the search for meaning is a form of perspective of contemporary norms, beginning from the premise that saintliness is a form of freedom. Freedom and the discourses of rationality are very close things. Daniel quest can be defined as a struggle against an exile. On an even larger scale, the novel can be looked upon as a sacrifice for personal choice and freedom in the society (or absence of it). "TREASON is the only crime defined in the Constitution" (Doctorow 1996, 167). The Constitution plays a crucial role in the life of every person, but through the character of Daniel, Doctorow shows that very often people forget about justice and morality influenced by political speculations and manipulations of the government. Daniel's quest symbolizes the search for God, trust and betrayal.
Social morals of the Americans are reflected in problems of individual choice and social injustice. The author vividly portrays that values and believes have dominated in the society ruling social opinion and behavior of people. Also, Doctorow, without a scorching rebuke selects such crimes and invests them with all the fascination of genius, and all the charms of a highly style. Now there surfaced the long interior conflict between natural respect for the past and his equal abhorrence of political cruelty. Similar to biblical Daniel, Daniel Lewin's quest can be explained as a search for 'self' and social justice the protagonist has been deprived from yearly years. Doctorow depicts that it is wrong for society to follow blindly political traditions which cause sufferings to innocent people. In either case the social arena becomes a political battleground, where fundamental values of family and love are denied and society turns into a crowd of cruel and heartless individuals dazzled by "personal morality". Through minor characters Doctorow shows that everyone knows what is 'virtue" but that no-one will blow the whistle so long as the proprieties are observed.
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1. Doctorow, E.L. The Book of Daniel. Plume, 1996. Read More
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